FDF Volume 4 Issue 315 - Soul Coughing - El Oso
Album – El OsoArtist – Soul Coughing
Key Players – Sebastian Steinberg – double bass. Mark de Gli Antoni – keyboards, sampler. Yuval Gabay – drums. Mike Doughty – vocals, guitar.
Produced By – Tchad Blake, Pat Dillett, Optical
Release Date – September 29, 1998
Overview – This is the third and final album from New York City band “Soul Coughing”. Doughty and de Gli Antoni got together after working in the theater and they'd enlist like minded players to create the band. Blending hip hop to electronica to jazz they were a hard band to put a real solid genre on. They'd be singed to Warner Brothers from the start and release a total of three records. This album, like the two others would sell “okay” in the US garnering “Gold” record status. (500K+ sold) They'd disband in 2000 after some internal tensions over credits and publishing.
FDF Comments (aka the songs) – The 14 song 57 minute disc begins with "Rolling", a track that ended up getting some radio play. Starts with Gabay's drum and then Doughty starts to sing in a low baritone, a little monotone, but still showing a bit of range at the same time. Steinberg comes up a bit later with some deep bass and De Gli Antoni adds in his accents off the keyboards. It is easy to hear the “jazz” tag as well, with the complex changes and layers. “Misinformed” continues with the complex playing. The band keeps you interested for sure, and the break down with Gabay and De Gli Antoni towards the end is a lot of fun. The bands biggest single came in "Circles" with Doughty taking the lead on a guitar that sounds slightly out of tune, but the bass and drums roll it to a fun “summer” sounding tune. “Blame” is a little slower to get started, clocking in just over 5 minutes Steinberg has the lead here, laying a fun bass line before Gabay gets on the hi-hat and pushes everyone along. The bass work shines for the duration. "St.Louise Is Listening" is another one of the tracks that was released as a single. It is darker than the other two singles with Doughty having a little growl to his voice, and the band slowly working under him with just a few guitar notes played under the rhythm of the band.. Steinberg teases a Led Zeppelin bass line on the intro to “Maybe I'll Come Down” and finds the band going towards the dark still, but “Houston” has the fun keyboard intro and the band seems to get a little more light hearted again, but the song feels like it keeps wanting to open up, but doesn't. It does go right in to “$300” that finds Doughty and Steinberg on the attack and Gabay joining the fun. The track uses a Chris Rock stand up line that was taken out of reverse. It works well as the 'chorus” to the song, a clever way to use the sample. Doughty takes the lead on “Fully Retractable” before Steinberg adds the bottom and Gabay starts to lay the drum line. The song has a heavy bottom to it and it seems to have a slow plodding feel to it. “Monster Man” moves with a heavily distorted guitar. De Gli Antoni is busy on this track with a lot of samples and keyboard fills. The oddness continues as expected with “Pensacola” a dark and slow song with hushed vocals. “I Miss the Girl” is the first seemingly uptempo song in a few, with Doughty pushing everyone along and we get those really solid sounding “grinding” moments. The final two songs “So Far I Have Not Found the Science” and “The Incumbent” are both solid bookends to the album. “So Far..” is a bit more uptempo but the slow build of Incumbent keeps you waiting for the “burst” and leaves you satisfied.
Where are they now? De Gli Antoni works on film scores. Steinberg has been busy recording or touring with bands/artists as diverse as the Dixie Chicks to William Shatner. Gabay formed a band “UV Ray” and continues to work as a session musician. Doughty continues to be very active both in the studio and on the road. He has released over 6 albums since the dissolving of the band.
FDF Overall Take – Musically there is a lot of variation to the style. Its rock, its alternative, its jazz...and for the most part its interesting. The band seemed to do things on their own terms and do shine a little brighter on the “singles” making them stand out a little more. Still, there is more good here than bad, and if you play any instrument each person does something unique enough, often enough to keep your attention.
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